James Coleman

James Coleman, president and CEO of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation is leading the organization to better utilize its funds to help more residents. (Courtesy Photo)

With an average household income of $73,000, Prince Georges County, Maryland holds $20,000 more in median household income than the national state average. However, more than 30,000 families still rely on social services for sustainability, according to the county’s office of economic development.

As Prince George’s County becomes a growth hub, populated with new business in industries such as professional services, IT, healthcare, the federal government, construction and transportation, the county wants to ensure its residents are equipped and prepared to work in the new positions. In an effort to better utilize funds to help more members of the community, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has revamped several of its initiatives to close the county’s economic gap.

“Our goal at EDC is to be able to get low-wage, unemployed, or convicted residents marketable trade certificates in a short amount of time that will increase their income. The ‘Activate Prosperity’ initiative is a three-year plan geared toward increasing the median household income and assessable tax rate,” James Coleman, president and CEO of the Economic and Development Corporation of Prince George’s County, told the AFRO.

More than 20,000 residents in the county are looking for better job opportunities, including those with low-income jobs and those classified as unemployed. In response, the EDC has implemented grants and certificate programs to train those with few skills and increase household incomes to $55,000 to $100,000 a year.

“My great grandfather was a small business owner in Lexington, Kentucky in 1888. He purchased the farm I own today and sent 300 descendants to college including myself over the next 128 years,” Coleman said. “I want to help groom and create small business owners, help them achieve their dreams, build the community, and give them the capacity to benefit 300 of their own descendants and keep the generational wealth going,” he said, referencing the fact that most county residents work outside the county.

Employment centers are located at One Stop center in Largo, in Laurel at 1801 McCormick Drive, first floor, and at 312 Marshall Avenue, Suite 604. At the centers, residents can apply to more than 20,000 jobs online, learn how to generate polished resumes, conduct interviews, answer questions, and to practice time management.

“Not everyone can afford a masters or Ph.D., let alone have the time to do such. So, we want to offer things like childcare services while you go to school, so that you can have the time to have a better life and build,” Coleman said.

In the last 10 years, Peter Goodson, workforce development coordinator for the EDC, has transformed the lives of 2,000 ex-convicts with certificate training programs in truck driving, culinary skills, medical fields, construction, and IT, and has generated an estimated $100 million in annual payroll during his time. “I just want to build awareness about all of the resources the state, federal, and county government has,” he said. “If you don’t have a job, get any job, after you get any job, get a better job, then a career, and then get your own business.”